Re: [xmca] zopeds and virtual learning environments

From: Linda Polin (
Date: Wed Jan 03 2007 - 16:11:14 PST

Hi Mike.

Linden Labs (Second Life) gave me a semester free trial for the whole
class. I eventually just sucked it up and bought an island (very
expensive, but I run the doctoral program and buried the cost for the
initial set-up and coaxed the masters degree program into splitting
the monthlies). Since then, the grad. biz school (not to be outdone
by Harvard) has decided it wants to look at using Second Life because
of all the RMT stuff, I think (real money transactions). I asked them
if they'd pony up so we could buy a bigger island. Membership in SL
is free, but to build you need land, and land costs money (clever).
Perhaps we could be more consortium-oriented in our dealings and
invite other institutions as well. How about an XMCA island? Our
Masters students recently had Daniel Pink come visit to view the
projects they had constructed in response to his book, A Whole New
Mind. My doctoral class had the pleasure of a visit last semester, in
SL, with MIchele Knoble and Colin Lankshear, as we were finishing up
their text, New literacies: Changing knowledge and classroom learning.

Because SL can be quite raunchy, and because I'm at an extremely
conservative institution, I decided to keep the island "off the grid"
so to speak. You have to be invited there. Students can always roam
about anywhere in SL they wish, of course. I've only formally taken
them out to the New Media Consortium site during the wonderful couple
of weeks of invited speakers and clever activities they sponsored
last semester.

Now...MMOs...a little different story. WoW (World of Warcraft) is
$48 start up for an account (think: lab fee), I think, and $16/mo
roughly (less than the cost of a movie date once a month). I "m not
above requiring that, but I don't require it, partly because I'm not
willing to take heat from my institution just yet. I have a subset of
doctoral students interested in gaming, specifically MMO type games,
and they have chosen to join me into WoW. We hve been there more than
a year now. Some were already EVE or Everquest veterans. Of course,
one of my doc students totally decimated my safe haven when he shared
in class, the famous YouTube video of the Onyxia wipe (a large group
effort gone bad) in which the raid master uses the F word about every
other word. =sigh= Oh well, I"m tenured.

I have been talking with Sasha about jumping a class into Quest
Atlantis, which Sasha bills as an MMO, but which is an explicitly
educational framework, as is Whyville. I think that makes it different.

Constance et al have a researcher guild on a PVP WoW server. Doctoral
students and researchers can join by nomination. There is an
associated private blog/site that often (not always) is about theory,
research, and observations about learning in WoW and to some extent
other games.

In the MacArthur web portal there is a terrific thread of discussion,
still available I believe, on gaming, led by Katie Salen. It is
accessible for viewing. I think the discussion has officially closed.

I would direct you to our research blog, but the guild in which my
students and I play (*not* a researcher guild, mostly JPFs) is in the
midst of some "guild emo" (drama, emo = emotion) and the language is
not PG rated as we all reflect on the situation we see going on (yet
again). Talk about communities and tension...whew...makes the
butchers, midwives, doctors, and artifical intell workers look civil
and tame. LOL.

Mike, come to Games, Learning, & Society in Madison in June. It's a
great high touch conference.

Perhaps we should all get our classes or doc'l students together
virtually, if not IRL (in real life).

Hope the jargon isn't too thick in this posting. I'm rushing because
I"m still finishing the syllabus for the class that starts tomorrow.


ps - the games/literacy class will next occur in Fall '07.

On Jan 3, 2007, at 3:27 PM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Linda & Jay--
> What do you do about teaching using costly mmogs to large classes?
> Its a practical question we face and I assume others do as well.
> Donna is using Second Life. Same question!!
> mike
> On 1/3/07, Linda Polin <> wrote:
>> Funny, last term I had revised a class similarly. (Are you playing in
>> Terror Nova, Jay?). Anyhow...I would also recommend the last third of
>> TL Taylor's book, Play Between Worlds.
>> On Jan 3, 2007, at 2:51 PM, Jay Lemke wrote:
>> >
>> > I have been away for a while, and too busy to participate much in
>> > xmca lately, but noticed this message today. You might have a look
>> > at a draft of a research proposal on my website
>> > [click on New Additions to get to the
>> link]
>> >
>> > It proposes comparing learning affordances and their uptake by
>> > users in commercial computer games and in educational software.
>> > There are references to several projects currently trying to make
>> > virtual learning environments in the mold of multiplayer games, and
>> > there is great promise in a social approach (guilds in online
>> > gameworlds, studied by Steinkuehler at Wisconsin; Whyville, studied
>> > by Yasmin Kafai at UCLA, etc.).
>> >
>> > I am giving a new course this term on new media literacies,
>> > identity, and learning. The syllabus and readings should be on my
>> > website in a week. Of course it's a big subject, from asynchronous
>> > e-learning, to emergent collective intelligence, to new learning
>> > environments and media.
>> >
>> > Steinkuehler's work in particular shows an apprenticeship model
>> > (with reciprocal learning by the mentor) as it turns up in an
>> > online gameworld. It's very zoped-like, and she is exploring CHAT
>> > as a theoretical model in her wider work.
>> >
>> > JAY.
>> >
>> >
>> > At 05:14 PM 1/3/2007, you wrote:
>> >> Why not? Sounds like a good idea to me.
>> >>
>> >> Eirik.
>> >>
>> >> --------------------
>> >> > Could virtual learning environments be organized more like
>> social
>> >> > virtual environments (my space, you tube, etc)??
>> >> > Ana
>> >> >
>> >> > Eirik Knutsson wrote:
>> >> >> I agree with Mike here: Judging from my experience as a
>> >> student, online
>> >> >> courses enable participation of usually more silent students
>> >> becoming
>> >> >> relatively more active and visible.
>> >> >>
>> >> >> I also agree that virtual environments now available offer a
>> >> lot of new
>> >> >> and interesting potentials for creating environments were
>> >> students can
>> >> >> be
>> >> >> more active, more individualistic learners.
>> >> >>
>> >> >> Who are these "silent students"? If they are contemplative,
>> >> introvert
>> >> >> individualists - as opposed to consensus-oriented, extrovert
>> >> >> "collectivists" - I think there is good reason to believe that
>> >> they have
>> >> >> a
>> >> >> lot to gain from these new virtual learning environments.
>> >> >>
>> >> >>
>> >> >> Eirik
>> >> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> _______________________________________________
>> >> xmca mailing list
>> >>
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> > Jay Lemke
>> > Professor
>> > University of Michigan
>> > School of Education
>> > 610 East University
>> > Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>> >
>> > Tel. 734-763-9276
>> > Email.
>> > Website. <>
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > xmca mailing list
>> >
>> >
>> _______________________________________________
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